St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds' Ring Weekend was just able to get up for the win in Monday's G2 Bernard Baruch Stakes at Saratoga, keeping his neck in front at the line. The 5-year-old son of Tapit was recording his first win on the year for trainer Graham Motion. Ridden by John Velazquez, Ring Weekend covered 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf in 1:38.29, a new course record.
“The day after the [Grade 1] Fourstardave, Graham [Motion] said 'I think we've got a shot to run him back at the end of the meet' and it kind of took me back a little bit,” relayed West Point Thoroughbreds' managing partner Terry Finley. “All week long he's trained great and I had a great feeling. I don't usually tell everybody but I told everybody I thought he would be very tough today. I had no reservations about bringing him back because Graham's got a really good sense of this horse and he really loves this horse. All those things put together we had a lot of confidence in putting everything together towards this outlook and we have great partners.”
Solemn Tribute broke the best of the field of nine, taking the lead into the first turn. Take the Stand, however, would go on move up his outside and take over the front position by the time they reached the backstretch, marking a first quarter mile in :23.26. Solemn Tribute settled just behind him on the outside of Reporting Star, with Ring Weekend not far behind. Take the Stand led through next fractions of :46.59 and 1:09.90, with a one-length lead turning for home.
Ring Weekend was making a bold bid down the center of the track, with Jay Gatsby between him and Take the Stand on the rail. Those three battled gamely to the wire, but Ring Weekend prevailed by a neck over Take the Stand in the end. Jay Gatsby had to settle for third, and Farhaan was moving well late to be fourth.
A stewards' inquiry was held into the running in the late stretch, as the three leaders exchanged significant bumping down the lane. Ultimately, they decided not to make any changes to the order of finish.
“He settled a little bit better than last time out here [Grade 1 Fourstardave, August 20], that was the key right there,” said Velazquez. “He broke better, settled better and that was the difference today. And then when I asked him to run, he responded very easily.”
Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Farm, Ring Weekend was a $310,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase. After more than a year away from the races, Ring Weekend returned to finished second in Pimlico's G2 Dixie Stakes in May, but followed that up with a sixth-place effort in the G1 Fourstardave at Saratoga in August. The Baruch is his first win since March of 2015, and improves his overall record to 6-4-2 from 17 starts, with earnings of nearly $1.3 million.
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